Fees paid to the directors of Optus owner Singtel — who include former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly — have soared by more than 80 per cent to $4.4 million.
The latest accounts for the Singaporean Government-owned telco giant, the 100 per cent owner of Optus, show that in the year to March, fees paid to directors went from S$2.1 million ($2.4m) to $3.8m ($4.4m).
Those payments included fees paid to directors for being members of Singtel’s “Optus Advisory Panel”, its “Technology Advisory Panel” and “Amobee Inc”, a since sold-off subsidiary, states Singtel’s latest annual report.
In October last year personal details of 9.8 million current and former customers were stolen, in what was then the biggest data breach in Australian history.
Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin this morning fronted a Senate inquiry in Canberra after the company’s mass outage last week, which impacted more than 10 million Australians.
The inquiry heard Optus “didn’t have a plan in place” for “that specific scale of outage” and that more than 200 triple-zero emergency calls had been unable to go through on the day of the mass outage.
Bayer Rosmarin told the inquiry the telco conducted a “hard reboot” of its network in a “brute force resuscitation”.
“The actions we took were a brute force resuscitation of the network,” she said this morning.
“There were 228 triple-zero calls that were unable to go through, and we have done welfare checks on all of those 228 calls. And thankfully everybody is okay”.
Bayer Rosmarin said she was “deeply sorry” for the outage and that it was “indisputable” that “on that day, our performance was not acceptable”.
“We have taken immediate and ongoing steps to rectify any shortcomings”.
Bayer Rosmarin was accused of using “very, very fluffy” language in her responses to Senators.
“I’m finding a lot of what you’re saying [is] very, very fluffy,” Labor Senator Karen Grogan told Bayer Rosmarin.
“It’d be really nice to have some specifics. Because we could spend two hours sitting here not actually getting the details that we require”.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who is chairing the inquiry, said: “It’s time that someone got the story straight”.
“I’m finding a lot of what you’re saying [is] very, very fluffy” — Senator Grogan
Bayer Rosmarin fronts the inquiry this morning. Source: Australian Senate
Optus has been beset by rolling scandals under Bayer Rosmarin.
There were widespread calls for her to resign after last year’s mass breach.
Today Bayer Rosmarin repeatedly dodged the question when asked if she would resign after last week’s massive outage, including when asked to comment on a newspaper report this morning that said she was considering doing so.
“I haven’t seen any reports today. I’ve been preparing for being here,” she said.
“I haven’t seen any reports today. I’ve been preparing for being here” — Bayer Rosmarin
At the time of last year’s attack Bayer Rosmarin announced Deloitte, one of the so-called Big Four consultancies, had been appointed to “conduct an independent external review”.
“Director’s fees of S$3.8 million (2022: S$2.1 million)” include “fees paid to certain directors in their capacities as members of the Optus Advisory Committee and the Technology Advisory Panel and as director (sic) of Amobee Inc,” Singtel’s latest annual report states.
Yet over a year later, Bayer Rosmarin and Optus are refusing to say what the review found.
In February last year Bayer Rosmarin appointed Gladys Berejiklian to a newly created senior executive role as Managing Director, Enterprise and Business — just months after Berejiklian had resigned as NSW Premier amid an investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
In June last year the ICAC found Berejikilan repeatedly engaged in “serious corrupt conduct” while NSW Premier.
Berejiklian continues to be employed in the Optus role, which involves seeking business from Australian governments.
Bayer Rosmarin and Optus have made no comment about Berejiklian’s “seriously corrupt” conduct as premier of the nation’s biggest state.
On the day of the findings Optus released a two-sentence statement from an unnamed “spokesperson” stating it “acknowledges” the ICAC report — and referred media to a statement issued by Berejiklian herself.
“We refer you to Gladys’ media statement and have no further comment to make,” said the Optus statement.
Gladys Berejiklian’s five sentence media statement contains no admission of any wrongdoing or any apology for her conduct.
Regarding last week’s systems collapse, Optus managing director Lambo Kanagaratnam told the inquiry the company didn’t have a plan in place for “that specific scale of outage”.
“It was unexpected. We have high levels of redundancy and it’s not something that we expect to happen,” he said.
“It’s certainly something that we commit to learning from this outage”.
Bayer Rosmarin told Senators the company initially considered it may have been the result of a cyber-attack.
It was a “very strange coincidence” the Singtel board had been in Australia during the outage, as the board had also been in the country at the time of last year’s cyberattack.
“When we had the cyberattack, it was the last time the Singtel board was in town. And they were in town again. So that was a very strange coincidence,” Bayer Rosmarin said.
It took Optus until 10.20am on the day of the attack to determine it was not a “denial-of-service” attack (one type of cyberattack).
Singtel’s annual report states the company holds at least one board meeting a year in Australia.
In November last year The Klaxon revealed the vast pay rises to Singtel’s directors, which were approved on July 29 last year, six weeks before the mass Optus data breach.
The total financial impact of that has since been revealed in the group’s annual report, for the year to March 30.
“Director’s fees of S$3.8 million (2022: S$2.1 million)” include “fees paid to certain directors in their capacities as members of the Optus Advisory Committee and the Technology Advisory Panel and as director (sic) of Amobee Inc.”, Singtel’s annual report states.
There were 14 directors, including 12 “non-executive directors”.
As non-executive directors, former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly received $S342,000 ($392,550); and former fellow former Westpac senior executive John Arthur received S$297,488 ($341,460).
Arthur’s salary included payments as a member of the “Technology and Resilience Committee”, created on November 9 last year.
Kelly is chair of Singtel’s Compensation Committee.
The Singtel board, as well as Optus chair Paul O’Sullivan, who has been in the role since 2014, has been heavily criticised for failing to address the major scandals that have hit the telco, including refusing to front the media.
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